This report presents the findings of a series of focus groups conducted between May and June 2022, with people working in the architecture profession in Australia, and addressing work related wellbeing for this group.
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Executive Summary of findings
The focus group findings help us understand the many aspects of architectural work that have a positive and negative affect on people working in architecture. They highlight that many positive aspects interact in complex ways with negative
experiences, and show that improving the situation will require a collective response at all levels of the profession.
The most common theme expressed among participants was a sense of passion and fulfilment gained from contributing to people’s lives and communities through their work. Participants also found satisfaction in the process of the work itself, including complex problem solving, close collaboration, the continual learning involved, and the diversity of roles available in practice.
Participants reported a range of complex issues negatively impacting their wellbeing. These included the ways that time and labour are managed in practice, stressors within the wider industry such as low fees and procurement practices, and negative perceptions of value.
Overwhelmingly, the perception is that architectural practitioners have little or no formal management training, and this is the source of compounding issues at many levels of experience.
The correlation between low fees and the compromised capacity for a practice to appropriately fund labour was emphasised and seen to have a flow-on effect of long-hours, unpaid labour, financial losses, exploitation of
younger workers, and stress and anxiety.
Procurement practices were strongly associated with negative impacts on wellbeing. This included problematic tendering processes, a lack of longevity or security in projects, and the negative effects of value-management.
The responsibility and risk associated with providing architectural services was not seen as commensurate with pay or status within the wider industry.
Suggestions to improve wellbeing
There was a perceived need for greater transparency and collective action among architectural practices and organisations to normalise widespread sharing of workplace practices and policies, supported by professional bodies, advocacy organisations and media outlets.
Notably, there was a perceived need for clear guidance and platforms that give individuals, practices, and professional organisations the skills, resources and agency to support and improve work-related wellbeing in the profession.
Note: This report was amended in August 2023 to correct an error in the chart showing the location of participants.